Republican hopefuls hit Myrtle Beach ahead of debate, SC primary

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WWAY) — The race for the White House is close as it’ll be for months tonight, as Republicans debate in Myrtle Beach. That debate will have one fewer candidate, after Jon Huntsman dropped out this morning.

“This is the most important election of our lifetime,” Huntsman, the former governor of Utah and ambassador to China said.

After not getting the support he hoped for in New Hampshire, Huntsman stepped out of the presidential race Monday in South Carolina. To the surprise of some, Huntsman decided to back Mitt Romney’s campaign saying he has the best chance to beat president Barack Obama in November.

Huntsman also had a few parting words before he left the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

“Let’s invest our time and resources in building trust with the American people and uniting them around a common purpose,” he said.

The departure did not catch many South Carolinians by surprise.

“I think his tactic to only focus on New Hampshire probably backfired on him a little bit,” South Carolina voter Scott Boulter said. “All in all I think Jon Huntsman will find himself in probably not a VP slot, but some sort of cabinet position.”

With huntsman bowing out of the GOP race, that leaves a narrowing list of candidates for those voting here in the Palmetto State.

“Ron Paul’s the only candidate that I’ve found that is actually talking about real spending cuts and real policy changes within our government,” voter Martin Goter said.

Voter Tom Gilkeson said, “My favorite would probably be Rick Santorum. I’m originally from Philadelphia, so he’s a Pennsylvanian, so I like his politics right now.”

Newt Gingrich had his fair share of support as well. But while we found supporters of all five remaining candidates around the Grand Strand, one Republican hopeful seemed to have the most support in South Carolina.

“I like Mitt Romney,” Kenneth Smondowski said. “He’s conservative enough for me, however he’s not way far right. I think if I had to choose, he’s the guy. He’s got business experience that I think will lead this country where it needs to be as far as the economy goes.”

Of the five Republican candidates left, the latest polls show Romney with a seven-point lead over Gingrich, followed by Paul, Santorum and Rick Perry.

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